Duc In Altum

MissionBay

Duc in Altum, it is Latin for “Into the deep ocean”, or something like that, my Latin is sort of rusty at the moment, but trust me on this one. It was taught to me during junior high and high school, almost 20 years ago (damn) by the Jesuits. My professors and academic community encouraged us to always go forward, looking for new challenges and frontiers, for adventures and knowledge, to open or wings and fly away…

LakeLouise

 

 

How do you like that for the opening paragraph of this post? Pretty epic, right?

 

 

Anyway, so later on, these thoughts and the urge for adventure, made me travel around the world and to visit many places, from France, Canada, Norway, Argentina, and my second home, New Zealand. Recently I got the chance to read a great article written by Kellie Donnelly, titled “The Hardest Part Of Traveling No One Talks About”. In this entry she describes perfectly the way I´ve felt after my trips abroad, specially the last one, coming back from New Zealand to Mexico after three years away.

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Indeed, traveling changes you; it transforms you into a different person and makes you an addict for just flying away. Realizing that coming back home is an obligation that you enjoy, that your friends are grownups now, with kids and responsibilities, with a retirement fund and a decent relationship gut. You find your parents and relatives a little older now, their hairs are greyer and their eyes look nostalgically into the distance. They listen to you blathering about your adventures and sincerely enjoy your stories, as you enjoyed their bed time tales when you were a kid.

Coromandel

Kellie describes perfectly that “travel bug” that annoyed me at the beginning of my return. Now it is clearer, it isn´t that you don´t like your home country anymore, it is much more; the need to get to know the world, as an addiction that is only beneficial for you, and your free soul.

As she concluded:

“This is the hardest part about traveling, and it’s the very reason why we all run away again.”

Kidrunning

 

Ps. All  the pictures in this post were taken by myself, pretty neat, huh?

#100HappyDays Conclusion

What have this experiment taught me? Let me recap on how I learnt something amazing about life, the universe and everything.

At the beginning I didn´t know what to expect from this, I mean, clearly I had to register and post those moments that made my day amazing, happy, significant or special. This became a conscious habit, sometimes frustrating when a day was about to end and I had to lurk into my head and find that special moment. At first it was annoying and irritating, as I felt obliged to do it, kind of forced, you know?

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Later on I started looking for that happy moment among others that I´ve experienced throughout the day, that happened around day 40 or 50. It became easier to find that wee happy place that I will post on my Instagram account. Honestly, I thought that all my happy moments will be about food, because, well, food is awesome. Then, almost at the last third of the experiment I realized that happiness was all around, you don´t need to wait for it to happen, or to consciously look for it, nor force it, it became a state of mind.

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Even during some bad days I didn´t struggle to find whatever made that day special, it could have been a friend, a phone call, a memory or a thought, happiness and goodness were all around, all the time. Finally, I started to let things flow, to let life affect me positively, to let others influence me with their optimism, this way happy thoughts and good memories arose more easily by the end of the experiment, I had no trouble to modify my state of mind in a positive way.

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Clearly, by the end of #100HappyDays I realized that happiness lies within us, it is our own decision to be happy or not. On my first post I mentioned some of the benefits, but one of the results they don´t tell you is that you become kinder, and not afraid of showing affection to your loved ones. I´m proud to say that I´m part of the 29% who has completed this challenge, because it seems like a challenge at the beginning.

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My happy days were filled with awesome things, from a good dinner or a wee chat with an old friend, from attending an amazing musical with that special someone to meeting up with your siblings, from having breakfast with your auntie to spending time with the nephew, or just enjoying a beautiful morning view of Mexico City . Finally it became just a simple task to reverse a sad state of mind by just remembering about the great things this Mexican has experienced throughout his life. #100HappyDays turned out to be surprisingly inspiring and revealing, something worth sharing with you all.

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Don´t mind if I insist, but you ought to give this a try (it´s not a cult, don´t worry), in the end, this #100HappyDays showed me that I´m capable of positively modifying my day by focusing on the great things in life, and to be grateful and to feel blessed of the life I was given.

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Ps. She is my mum, up there, in the last picture of this post. Sometimes, when things don´t seem right I look at this picture, which reminds me that there´s always someone there to encourage me to get back on the saddle and conquer my fears.

Mexican Censorship Reform

Hey lads out there, haven´t you noticed that the Telecommunications Initiative presented by the Mexican President, Enrique Pena Nieto, to the Senate last week, clearly violates freedom of speech and access to information?:

“A particularly undesirable aspect of the document is an attempt to establish a mechanism for discretionary censorship of social media through the possibility that the authorities could order Internet providers to suspend service “during events and at critical locations for reasons of public and national security”, which opens prospects of authoritarian control and opaqueness for ends incompatible with any democratic purpose.” La Jornada

Because screw you, that´s why

This pretty much means that if any authority (still isn´t clear which one) determines that something posted on the web affects national security or there´s a relevant event happening, well, the internet or certain websites shall be banned/blocked. And by relevant events let´s say that a massive protest “Venezuela Style” happens, the authorities could just demand the internet providers to shut down broadband signal.

Good old fashion authoritarianism, ladies and gens!

And just like countries as North Korea, Syria, Egypt, Iran, and even Venezuela, the Mexican authorities are moving into the path of blocking telecommunications and censoring the internet under the argument of national security.

Literally, if there´s a relevant event that the government wouldn´t like outsiders to find out, well, blocking any way of communication seems appropriate.

This will stop real time broadcasting of human right abuses preformed by the authorities in case of a public display of discomfort by the Mexican citizens, this according to the article 197 of the Telecommunications Secondary Law Initiative presented by Pena Nieto last week.

And under the argument of regulating the wealthy, the rest must settle for nothing but censorship

Let´s go further, not only human rights violations or relevant events to the public would be blocked from the rest of the country, also in the next presidential elections this seems very beneficial for the State Party candidate. Even if the other candidates are having a successful campaign, if the government decides which information threatens national security, maybe its opponents also pose a threat to the state´s national security.

Mussels and Leffe Blonde

I can´t believe I haven´t told you about my favourite day of the week when I was in New Zealand! It wasn´t Friday, nor Saturday, it was freaking Monday, bro. Monday was the day when my mates and I would take a break and go to De Fontein on Mission Bay. (Wednesday was recycling day and business time, obviously)

Why on Monday? Because if you had your loyalty card you´ll get 2×1 in mussel pots, that meant ordering 1 kilo and you get an extra kilo, served in any of the different sauces they had: White wine and garlic, lobster bisque and brandy, coconut cream and lemongrass curry, blue cheese and spinach, or the chef´s special. My favourite? Coconut cream and lemon grass curry, it was freaking delicious.

Beautiful

This place was/is always hectic, people waited lined up outside to get a decent table and being able to try its spectacular flavours and massive servings, you don´t only get a pot of mussels, you get the french fries and dipping sauces. But wait, no Belgium restaurant will make sense if there isn´t good Belgium beer to wash down these delicacies.

My recommendation? Leffe Blonde, its taste, body, and freshness is essential to enjoy mussels and fries and the beautiful view that Mission Bay in Auckland presents you.

Remember that mussels are the cheapest source of protein in New Zealand, as you don´t need to pay more than NZ 3 to NZ 4 per kilo at the supermarkets, and that my mates is freaking nothing, even in comparison with Mexican standards.

If there is something I miss from Aotearoa has to be going to De Fontein on a Monday arvo. Trust me, if you have some spare time in Auckland, take a wee break, go to Mission Bay and dig into that bucket of mussels, just marvelous.

No Sex in the Champagne Room

Wait a second, is it March already? Where the bullocks did this year go? Anyway, so I´m on the hunt for a new place now and I´m quite excited about this. Let´s put it this way, there are many plans ahead and the rest of this year is going to be bloody awesome. Well, except for the fact that Ukraine is in a terrible political turmoil, Venezuela is experiencing an awful social revolution, the Mexican government intends to pass a law that will allow the authorities to block telecommunications in case of national security issues (aye, just like Egypt, Iran, or Syria), and somebody vomited on Lady Gaga for … let´s put it this way: art.

They say it looked a lot like this…

So, one quarter of the year gone already? And what have we learnt so far?

1.- Street food is an awesome sin

This is one my favourite “sports” since I moved to Mexico City, street food here is freaking glorious and without hesitation the best meals I ever had here were on the run.

From pambazos, to “tacos de canasta”, pork crackling quesadillas, or just corn in a cup (no girls); this city is the bomb when it comes to urban/informal gastronomy.

 

2.- It´s ok to protect human rights in other countries except yours

I´m talking to you “Murica”, don´t think we haven´t noticed the amount of people lined up for execution in your penitentiary centres. That´s right, there are several inmates that are there waiting for their lives to be “Terminated” by the American government without a proper trial. If you want to find out more, go to the Death Penalty Information Centre website, and see “who´s next”.

3.- Christmas decorations are fine on February but not March

I´m not going to go deeper on this subject, you know who you are, and no, it is not “ok” to leave them all the way until August and then say “well, Christmas is just around the corner, why bother”. Get those bloody cardboard boxes and put those obnoxious holiday annoyances away!

Neither saying “happy new year” after the second week of January.

4.- No matter what the stripper says, there´s no sex in the champagne room. 

Amazingly explained by Chris Rock on this great 90s hit:

Ps. Remember mates, learn the difference between positivism and optimism, they are not the same, and no, reading Paulo Coehlo isn´t cool either.

Ps2. Speaking of optimism, tend to hang out with happy and optimist fellas, learn from their ability to see the good things in life. Usually these people are empathetic, caring, good listeners and they share their happiness with those around them.

Mexico City: One Year After

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Well, not really, I´ve been in Mexico City for over a year already and honestly I´m loving it. This city is amazing, so alive, so busy, vibrant and full of surprises. Living here was one of my goals in life, regardless of how the rest of the country sees the capital city, the Federal District (or DF as it is known in Mexico) is one of the most amazing urban centres of Latin America.

Just don´t mind this… I mean, sometimes it gets pretty casual.

I got here around the end of January last year, I didn´t know what to expect, but now I can say that this is a great city to visit, live and do pretty much whatever you want (legally, obviously, this isn´t bloody Amsterdam, you know, we are Catholics and stuff).

I still have that crazy bird in my head telling me to do other stuff and fly away, but for now, this place is pretty awesome.

Last weekend I noticed how lucky I am, I went to Reforma Avenue on Sunday. This is perhaps the most important avenue in the country, which on Sundays becomes a pedestrian-only road. On this day you can find people riding their bicycles, practicing yoga or just hanging out around freaking old monuments. 

Pretty awesome day, right?

Pretty awesome day, right?

After wandering around for a while I went for some churros with hot chocolate close to the main square (known as Zocalo) of the city. This place is pretty famous and old, it is called “El Moro” and it is just delicious, for USD$4 you get hot chocolate and 4 large churros, fantastic.

These are the bomb!

These are the bomb!

As well, every Sunday, but in the my neighborhood, the Colonia Napoles, a street market makes this “hood” a literal food parade, where fresh veggies and fruits can be found. Also, taco places and Mexican food stands sell their products to the general public.

These are deep fried quesadillas filled with cheese and pork crackling - Pure love

These are deep fried quesadillas filled with cheese and pork crackling – Pure love

My favourite stand, and I reckon they might know who I am by now is a “carnitas” stand, where they offer amazing pork crackling, pork meat and pork… and more pork, it is just heaven (I love pork).

The heart of Mexico: El Zocalo

The heart of Mexico: El Zocalo

Anyway, the point here is, Mexico City is freaking awesome, give it a chance, and if you are ever around do not hesitate to give me a call, I might even take you to my favourite “carnitas” stand and share a taco or two with you. 

The Soumaya Museum, for example, has one of the largest Rodin´s collection in the world.

The Soumaya Museum, for example, has one of the largest Rodin´s collection in the world.

Ps1. Honestly, that #100HappyDays thingy is really working, I do feel more optimistic and enjoying the simple things in life.

Ps2. Did I mention last time that I found this ubber delicious coffee place just around the corner from my flat? It´s an original concept and the way they prepare coffee is very traditional, not more Starbucks for me on the weekends. The place? El Guapo Café 

Ps3. Wanna see more pics of how is life in Mexico, go for a wee visit to the following link. 

It´s a Me, El Chapo

So, El Chapo was recaptured in a Mexican-American joint operation last weekend in the coastal city of Mazatlan in the State of Sinaloa, Mexico. The former Mexican drug lord, leader of  the Sinaloa Cartel  was re-arrested after 13 years of being off the leash.

It looked a lot like this… according to some witnesses

He “escaped” the prison of Puente Grande in 2001, and according to the information found, he bribed the prison guards, however it is known that some Mexican Security officials visited the offices of this prison the days prior his escape. No need to say that later these officials served as close members of Felipe Calderon´s team during his administration (2006-2012) or performed as corporate intelligence executives at major corporations like, let´s say, the third largest cement company in the world (wink, wink)

Ok, it was more like this, but don´t  tell me that the mariachi SWAT team looks more awesome? Huh? Nah? Anyone?

Considered the “most powerful drug trafficker in the world” by the United States Department of the Treasury, El Chapo was the protagonist of many conspiracy theories throughout his life.

Not the actual cover

Some said that he was instructing the Fox and Calderon administration on how to handle national security issues, and the best strategy for the elimination of other drug cartels in the  northeast of the country and all the borderline with the United States.

Others said that he could pay off Mexico´s international debt with his fortune if they let him handle his “business” without being disturbed by the authorities. Oh wait, that was Caro Quintero, now free. According to the, very recently updated, entry in Wikipedia (my favourite source of information these days), “El Chapo” was found inside his 4th floor condo at 608 Av del Mar in the beachfront Miramar condominium in MazatlánSinaloa, and he was captured without a single shot fired.

Are you bloody kidding me? 

The most wanted drug lord in the world, accused of killing over 6,000 people himself, and ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the most powerful people in the world (No, seriously: ranked 41st, 60th and 55th every year since 2009), was recaptured peacefully and without a sweat.

He was found just wearing his… well, now very trendy mustache.

I wish I could grow a mustache like that, look at it, perfect.

You gotta love the conspiracy theorists who have made viral a couple pictures of El Chapo from 2001 and El Chapo from last week, claiming that it isn´t the same person.

Honestly, I don´t know what to make of this nonsense.

Nah, El Chapo has been recaptured and there´s no doubt about this. Regardless of how critic I´ve been to Enrique Pena´s administration, I must acknowledge this milestone, and the efforts made by the Mexican Intelligence Unit on finding this awful human being (regardless of how cool his  mustache is).

Good boy

Ps. But why was he captured until now? Don´t you reckon the timing is sort of perfect as the group of Vigilantes in the State of Michoacan, fighting back the drug cartels, was getting too much attention from the media? I have too many goddamn questions.

No kidding, these are civilians (probably financed by other drug cartels) defending themselves from the the criminal groups

Ps2. so, the governor of the State of Sinaloa knew nothing about El Chapo drinking beer and watching Dora in his state all this time? Was it a staged apprehension? Will this affect the stability shown lately by the different drug cartels in Mexico, restarting the War on Drugs that the Mexicans suffered from 2007 until 2012? (Who am i kidding here, the war never ended). And why the heck can´t I grow  a mustache like that? Just look at it, is beautiful.

Ps3. Oh, did I mention that he was captured a few days after Barack Obama left Mexico, he was attending the Leaders of NorthAmerica Summit. I mean… conditions were perfect.